Corfu: Places to Explore

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Paleokastritsa

To quote one recent traveler: “I’d rather go to Paleokastritsa than to Heaven.” Considered by many to be the site of Homer’s city of the Phaeacians, this truly spectacular territory of grottoes, cliffs, and turquoise waters has a big rock named Kolovri, which the ancient Greeks said resembled the ship that brought Ulysses home. The jaw-dropping natural beauty of Paleo, as Corfiots call it, has brought hotels, tavernas, bars, and shops to the hillsides above the bays, and the beaches swarm with hordes of people on day trips from Corfu town. You can explore the idyllic coves in peace with a pedal boat or small motorboat rented at the crowded main beach. There are also boat operators that go around to the prettiest surrounding beaches; ask the skipper to let you off at a beach that appeals to you and to pick you up on a subsequent trip. Many visitors also enjoy a trip on the “Yellow Submarine,” a glass-bottomed boat which also runs night excursions (reservations are recommended).

In the Paleokastritsa region, one of the most famous natural beauty spots is found off the Main Road: the Canal d’Amour, an amazing “canal” formed by towering layers of rock erosion. Unfortunately, one has to run the gauntlet of Sidari, a township packed with notorious discos and bars. The splendor of the rock formations may be worth it, their legend even more so: a person who swims the entire length of the canal may meet his or her life love at the end of the river bed. On the rocks lining the canal, look for the La Grotta bar, built grotto-like into the rocks of a tiny cove. A mini-Acapulco, the high cliffs here tempt local youths to dive into the turquoise waters—great entertainment as you sip your cold beer or cocktail.

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